PLASTIC RECYCLING ECOBAN
THE PLASTIC RECYCLING FACTORY ECOBAN
Second Plastic Recycling Plant In Peru In Operation
It was already announced … But with some delay, the second plastic recycling plant in Peru has been put into operation. It is not located in the industrial area of the municipality of Sullana (as originally planned), but on the terrain of the APPBOSA cooperative. The factory is run by a new company that was founded especially for this purpose: Grupo ECOBAN. Shareholders are the producer organisations APPBOSA, APOQ, AVACH, Río y Valle; the Clúster de Banano del Perú; and Tulipán Naranja, the subsidiary of AgroFair in Peru.
Construction of the plant began in June 2021, and the building was completed in October. In September, the machines for the two recycling lines arrived in the port of Paita, from the factory in Qingdao, China. After a selection process among dozens of candidates, the staff was appointed during November and December. After trial runs and finetuning in December and January, the recycling process was mastered. Per day 500 – 800 corner boards can be made; and the first containers with corner boards from ECOBAN were shipped already.
Video from bunch bags to corner boards
GLOBAL POLLUTION OF TERRESTRIAL ECOSYSTEMS AND SEAS
The global pollution of terrestrial ecosystems and seas by plastic, harmful for the environment and human health, is really becoming an enormous problem. We all know the images of beaches full of plastic garbage, plastic bags floating in the sea or left behind along roads, and dead animals with plastic in their stomach. Plastics used in agriculture are part of it. Last December, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) issued a critical report on the use of plastics in agriculture, titled “Assessment of Agricultural Plastics and their Sustainability. A Call for Action” (https://doi.org/10.4060/cb7856en). The unsustainable life cycle of plastics used in the banana sector, is an important part of this problem. There are increasing calls for an internationally binding convention on the use and sustainable management of plastics.
… And then came the Corona virus, which struck particularly hard in Peru. Apart from all the other miserable effects, the epidemic has delayed the implementation of the plastic recycling project for months. In July conditions were in place to pick up where we left off. We now hope that the first recycled corner boards from Peru will roll off the assembly lines in the spring of 2021. Once the factory is running at full capacity there will be enough capacity to recycle not only the plastic from our own producers, but from the whole banana sector in Peru. Running two shifts, 960.000 corner boards per year can then be produced, enough for 12.000 containers of bananas – which is the current export volume. Quick math: the amount of used plastic per hectare is about enough to make the number of corner boards needed to export the bananas from that same hectare. It pleases us immensely to say that this makes a piece of circular economy a reality.
1 BILLION PLASTIC BUNCH BAGS
Worldwide, an estimated 500 thousand hectares of bananas are grown for export, which equates to 1 billion plastic bunch bags hung around the bunches (about 20,000 tonnes), each year. On average, each bunch bag is 150 cm long. If put in a row, that makes 1,5 million km; almost 40 times around the earth, or almost twice back and forth to the moon … each year.
RECYCLE ALL OF PERU’S BANANA PLASTIC
DOING NOTHING IS NO OPTION
ECOBAN’s efforts, even if it succeeds in realising its ambition to recycle all of Peru’s banana plastic (roughly 400 tonnes), is a drop in the ocean. Two more recycling plants are expected to start operations this year in the Dominican Republic. In Costa Rica, the large recycling plant RECYPLAST has been clearing banana plastic for years, in Nicaragua and Ecuador there are smaller initiatives, but a global overview of what is happening with the banana plastic is lacking.
Doing nothing is no option. Initial projections show that ECOBAN has the potential to be competitive and profitable, with opportunities to use its revenues to expand plastic collection capacity, install more recycling lines and produce and sell more corner boards.
Like greedy cooks in the kitchen, we are now scouring around for more recyclable ingredients! We will be looking into other plastics, like plastic bottles, for raw material. If that works, the municipality of Sullana could initiate waste separation and the resulting corner boards could be sold on to other export sectors in northern Peru. There is definitely a market for this product: approximately 200 companies are active in the production and export of delicate products such as mango, grapes, avocado, blueberries, limes and sweet potato.
We see a lot of opportunity here for other products as well: recycled plastic can be put to excellent use in planks, poles for fences and other building materials.
ECOBAN HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE PROFITABLE, INSTALL MORE RECYCLING LINES AND PRODUCE AND SELL MORE CORNER BOARDS
RECYCLE BANANA PLASTIC
What this experience also shows is that initiatives to recycle banana plastic need not be restricted to large companies/-banana plantations, but that with initial outside support and mutual-cooperation, organizations of small producers can also set this up.
On a future occasion, we hope to be able to report on the recycling plants in the Dominican Republic and other follow-up activities.
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.